Photo courtesy of The First Twenty
If you think a personal change in your level of health and fitness does not have an impact, I’d like you to meet Matthew Mathes. Matt shared his fitness success story with me and it’s something everyone should read:
I started as a junior firefighter for my home town fire district. I quickly learned ALL the bad habits that come with the firehouse. It wasn’t until after I was married in 2006 that I started noticing my weight “sneaking” up on me. Before I knew it my wife was pregnant and we BOTH looked it. The fast food, the giant burgers, the soda all added into becoming OBESE! I noticed that even tying my shoes caused me to be out of breath. I went through the fire academy, ALWAYS being the fat, slow, out of breath guy thinking there was no way I could ever actually save someone if needed. I would suck down a tank faster than anyone else. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure by the age of 28. I thought to myself, how can I tell someone who’s having a heart attack to eat better and be healthy if I’m just as at risk as they are? Something had to change! It wasn’t until my son, (age 3 at the time) said something I’ll never forget. He used the “F word”! He told me that I was FAT and that I needed to go to the gym. It was then that I decided to make a change. A change for me, my family, and the people I was trying to protect.
I saw an infomercial for INSANITY! (Yeah, that crazy workout that you do at home, by yourself, in front of your T.V.) I thought to myself, I can do that… so I did! After about 2 months I had lost some weight, about 30 lbs to be exact. It was easier for me to move around, so I also started running. Learning how and what to eat, how to exercise, boosted my confidence and literally saved my own life. I no longer am diagnosed with high blood pressure and actually teach INSANITY LIVE at the local YMCA in my off time. I have gone on to do more Beachbody DVD programs and continue to lead a healthy lifestyle. I’ve obtained a full time job for the Kirkwood Fire Department and continue to spread healthy choices around the station. It’s nice being called the “fit guy” instead of the “fat guy”. Recently I came across a quote that sticks in my mind, it goes “You can never train too much for a job that can kill you” and you know what? That goes for killing yourself too!
Photo courtesy of The First Twenty
Matt was motivated to adjust his attitude, assess his personal accountability, and take action to become fit for firefighting duty. Since his incremental changes, he has gone on to promote health and fitness by not only staying fit, but teaching others to do the same thing. While I am not endorsing any specific training or workout program (what you do to become functionally fit should be what you like and what keeps your interest), I am telling you that health and fitness is personal, but it can also have a tremendous impact on others too.
Every firefighter that gets off the couch and gets going is another firefighter that begins to demonstrate a true commitment to the fire service and what it takes to be an asset on the fireground, not a liability. Whether you know it or not, it’s contagious. Be like Matt and the others I have featured on this blog – become part of the solution.
Dan Kerrigan is a 28-year fire service veteran and an assistant fire marshal/deputy emergency management coordinator and department health and fitness coordinator for the East Whiteland Township Department of Codes and Life Safety in Chester County, Pennsylvania and the Director ofThe First Twenty’s Firefighter Functional Training Advisory Panel. Kerrigan is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and holds a Master’s Degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership. He is a PA State Fire Academy Suppression Level Instructor as well as an adjunct professor at Anna Maria College, Neumann University, and Immaculata University. Connect with Kerrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org, on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @dankerrigan2. Follow The First Twenty on Twitter@thefirsttwenty.